Scratch for free-range chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by mkearsley, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. mkearsley

    mkearsley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 19, 2010
    South-west Idaho
    Do I need to provide scratch for my free-range chickens? They're getting a handful of BOSS each day, along with any dog food my dog will let them steal. They are also roaming the yard again now that its not snowing.
     
  2. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    If you're feeding a typical 16% protein layer ration then the BOSS is your scratch. I wouldn't give them yet more of another type on top of it.

    If you're feeding a higher protein layer ration you can give each bird about a half a handful of different scratch per day or as much as they want if the protein content is 20% or better.
     
  3. mkearsley

    mkearsley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 19, 2010
    South-west Idaho
    Right now, they get 20% protein crumbles, but when this bag runs out (probably this summer), I'm planning on dropping it to 16% & converting to pellets. What exactly is the benefit/purpose of scratch?
     
  4. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    North/Central Florida
    With 16% feed it's not necessary at all and in more than small amounts is working against you.

    But it can have some good uses. Namely it gets all of your birds out where you can see them at the same time so you can spot developing problems. It also encourages the birds to get some exercise if they're given to just sitting around. Other than those most folks give it to them just because they want to.

    I feed a 20% protein crumble myself so just hang a tube feeder of whole grain along with it and let the birds balance their own diets. They do a pretty good job of it.
     
  5. mkearsley

    mkearsley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 19, 2010
    South-west Idaho
    A.T. Hagan :

    With 16% feed it's not necessary at all and in more than small amounts is working against you.

    But it can have some good uses. Namely it gets all of your birds out where you can see them at the same time so you can spot developing problems. It also encourages the birds to get some exercise if they're given to just sitting around. Other than those most folks give it to them just because they want to.

    I feed a 20% protein crumble myself so just hang a tube feeder of whole grain along with it and let the birds balance their own diets. They do a pretty good job of it.

    So why do you feed 20% protein crumble? I just figured the more protein, the better, but I don't know if that's true with chickens or not. Which grains do you feed - oats, corn, or wheat?​
     
  6. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    North/Central Florida
    I feed the 20% because it's a general purpose poultry ration suitable for pretty much anything with feathers over 8-10 weeks of age. The rooster pen gets it, the layer tractors and fixed hen yard, and turkey tractor and grow out pens when they have birds in them. For the layers they also get a handful of oyster shell blended in and a hopper of shell for those that want more.

    I hang a feeder of grain - usually about 3 parts whole corn to 1 part whole oats or wheat and one-half part of alfalfa pellets. For the birds that don't need so much protein as what the 20% supplies they'll eat more grain. On the really cold nights/days they'll eat more grain to stay warm instead of eating more of the expensive high protein feed just to get calories.

    For the turkeys in the growout pens and the breeder turkeys who are molting or have just started laying heavily they get about a quarter to a third gamebird starter mixed into their crumbles. Gamebirds have higher protein requirements than chickens. If they aren't molting or laying much they get just the regular 20% crumbles and the grain.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2010

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